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The big heist

BY STEPHEN DiLAURO | There are indications that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is diverting billions of dollars meant to go to U.S. citizens in the form of $1,200 stimulus/COVID-19 payments. The scam is blatant and obvious. The amount stolen could be more than $24 billion. That’s $24,000,000,000. Recent statements by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and close adviser, indicate he is raking it in, too. Yet no one is doing anything.

On May 9, 2020, I received a letter with the I.R.S. as the return address on the envelope. Inside was a letter dated April 24 from the White House over Donald Trump’s auto-signature. It states, “Your Economic Impact Payment Has Arrived” in bold typeface. Further down in the letter, underlined, it states: “You are receiving an Economic Impact Payment of $1200.00 by check/debit card.”

I have received nothing but my usual monthly Social Security direct deposits — two since the stimulus CARES bill passed Congress and Mnuchin gained control of all that money. 

I am not alone. Three other people on my block, that I know of, have received the same letter but no payment. According to news reports, up to 22 million Americans have not received their payments yet. Do the math: 22 million multiplied by $1,200 is more than $26 billion. That’s a nice score, in the parlance of criminals and gamblers.

Here is the strange yet obvious thing: I get my Social Security benefits via direct deposit. I file my taxes every year and the I.R.S. has my direct deposit information, too. So, why was the government sending me a check or debit card? 

According to every news source and the I.R.S. Web site, I should have already received the stimulus payment by direct deposit.

I know the direct deposit information supplied with my tax return was correct because New York State gave me a refund that way. My tax status was a wash with the I.R.S. this year — no payment or refund was due. But my tax preparer did supply the I.R.S. with my same direct deposit information as the state received.

My neighbors who spoke with me deal with the I.R.S. via direct deposit, too.

President Trump promised “fast and direct economic assistance.” (Courtesy Stephen DiLauro)

How does this lead me to believe that Steven Mnuchin is siphoning off billions? A better question is “why wouldn’t he?” One of the first things Trump did was get rid of any inspector general, watchdog or other oversight of the distribution of stimulus funds. This is Banana Republic Governance 101.

There is no recourse or avenue of inquiry for the average citizen or even for members of Congress. Repeated calls to Congressmember Jerrold Nadler’s office have been fruitless. A sympathetic staffer directed me to try again on the dead-end “Where’s My Check?” portion of the I.R.S. Web site (which says my check was sent April 24) or to call the dead-end 800-919-9835 recorded line. There is no way to file a complaint or inquiry.

I mentioned Jared Kushner. I believe he may be involved in the scam. He recently went on Fox News and stated that he could not say for certain that there will be an election. These people know that if Trump must leave office, their scams will be uncovered and all the bogus pardons that may be signed will be worthless. If you steal billions and get caught, someone is going down. Or so one hopes.

Meanwhile, Kushner has made it clear the Trump band of thieves will not let go the reins of power easily. Is the president himself involved in the theft? Who knows?

The one thing I do know pretty much for sure is that Donald J. Trump signed the original of the recent form letter that I received. I know this because it closely resembles the signature on a personal letter I received from him years ago, long before he became president, complimenting me on a TV adaptation I did of one of my stage plays. Beyond that, everything is conjecture.

Though, I am also fairly certain that I will never receive the $1,200 stimulus check. Why? Because I am leaving the city, with no forwarding address. There is a resistance forming that is not right wing. I am going underground.

DiLauro is a playwright and native New Yorker.


  1. Stephen DiLauro Stephen DiLauro June 8, 2020

    Interesting. Two women attack me personally – “insane” and “fantasy” – without addressing the numbers, the lack of accountability, or former hedge fund hustler Mnuchin’s reputation on Wall Street as a guy whose philosophy was “take as much as you can without getting caught” and Jared Kushner’s other questionable acts as part of the Trumpty Dumpty administration. (For example, the skimming and kickbacks for him and his buddies while purchasing PPE to replace the 18 tons of PPE that Trumpty Dumpty sent to China on February 7, emptying the national strategic reserve.)
    They got theirs, so the millions who have not received the stimulus payment are all a concoction on my part.
    Ignoring the facts and launching personal attacks. I wonder what party they belong to?

  2. Kate Walter Kate Walter May 31, 2020

    It was a screw-up. That’s all. I file electronically and get SSI electronically and yet I got a paper check. Go figure. There have also been problems with the mail. Hope you can track your payment down. Or you can write another fantasy speculating why you were singled out.

    • Stephen DiLauro Stephen DiLauro June 8, 2020

      Please see my reply below. Thank you.

  3. Lily Carver Lily Carver May 30, 2020

    I think you have made an insane leap from your own problem. I fully believe Mnuchin and Trump would take money but they are doing that by giving hundreds of billions to big companies that don’t need it. I don’t file electronically and I got mine in the mail last month. An older friend who is on SS (so they have his bank info but he mails his taxes) got one of those WACKO debit cards. It arrived on Friday. Some people threw it out because it looked like a scam. I don’t personally know anyone who has not gotten their payment. One of the articles you link to is more than a month old. I am sure their are screw-ups but not some Trump conspiracy since they freaking want to take credit for the measly amount.

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